The Rhythms of Your Life: The Science of Circadian Rhythms
Are you ready to build your best day and your best life?
The internet and daily news are full of articles about how to plan your best day, how to be most productive, and the things that the most successful people do each day.
In this course, I’m going to challenge you to shift your perspective and focus away from the wisdom of others and instead, work with the wisdom of your body. We’re going to dive into the science of circadian rhythms and learn how to connect with the inherent natural patterns of your body to help you build, brick by brick and hour by hour, your best day—and therefore, your best life.
To start, let’s define circadian rhythms. The circadian rhythm is a roughly 24-hour cycle “in the physiological processes of living beings, including plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria” . What that means is that the internal processes of your body have natural preferences for a variety of activities, including eating and sleeping and digesting food, which are influenced by the time of day in general and in particular by external cues such as temperature and sunlight.
We have, with modern society, disrupted many of these natural processes. With indoor heating and electrical lights, we are no longer dependent on daylight or outdoor temperatures. However, recent research suggests that all these modern disruptions may have significant consequences for our health and well-being. In fact, this is such an important understanding that the 2017 Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine was given to a research team focusing on the understanding of circadian rhythms! 
You’ve likely heard of the Freshman 15—the seemingly inevitable weight gain that so many young adults experience when they move out of their parent’s houses and into college dorms. Recent research suggests that it’s not just increased consumption of beer and pizza, but rather the fact that students are fueling midnight study hours with said beer and pizza. Eating the same number of calories later in the day is associated with increased weight gain; switching that pattern and eating most of your calories at breakfast is associated with weight loss . Think about that: Eating the same food at different times in the day may actually impact how your body processes those calories and whether you gain or lose weight.
When we build daily routines that support, rather than disrupt, our natural circadian rhythms, we improve our potential for health, well-being, and even productivity.
Are you ready to listen to your body?
Tomorrow, we’ll focus on the first hour of your day. We’ll consider when you should start your day and discuss why you should start every day approximately at the same time, even on weekends. We’ll also discuss what you should do during that first hour to feel your best throughout the rest of your life.
Writer Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
For today, I’d like you to figure out how, exactly, you spend your days. Map out what you do all day today. Write it on a paper calendar or type it into your digital calendar app. Write down what you’re doing each hour, or even better, every 15 minutes. Consider food, exercise, hygiene, sleep, work, chores, leisure activities, etc. Consider what you put in your mouth—what you put in your body—and whom you spend your time with. Before you can identify needed changes, you need a clear, honest picture of your life right now.
Together over the next ten days, we’ll help you make wise choices for how you spend your days so you can feel good about how you spend your life.
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